Genetic Testing Today & Tomorrow
Genetic testing – what’s propelling advancements?
It’s only been about a dozen years since the Human Genome Project was completed in April 2003. This international research effort to map all human genes (the genome) has been called one of the greatest feats of exploration in history.
A deeper understanding of the human genome paired with technology advancements makes this an exciting time to be at the forefront of genetic testing. Left and right new doors are opening up for people to discover more about how their genes impact different aspects of their health which can lead to more informed patients.
So, what factors are propelling genetic testing? Here are just a few:
- Affordability: genetic testing used to just be for the affluent, but due to technological advancements, it is now a mere fraction of the cost it once was - dipping from upwards of a thousand dollars, to several hundred dollars.
- Accessibility: genetic tests can now be administered in the comfort of your own home with physician approval. No need to go through lengthy or invasive processes.
- Proactivity: Once reactive healthcare is becoming more proactive with patients showing an active desire to manage, understand and help improve their long-term health.
Looking towards the future
Currently we’re using genetic testing to discover an individual’s likelihood of developing a disease or to determine what medicines and treatments will work best based upon an individual’s genome.
Yet we are just beginning to scratch the surface of the benefits of genetic testing. Just as Wilbur and Orville Wright could not have predicted that their first flight in 1903 would lead to space travel, we cannot fully predict how genetic testing will advance in the decades ahead.
For example, while the genome has been mapped, we are yet to use that information to its full capacity. We are still determining which genes are involved with certain diseases and genetic conditions. As this information is revealed, we can develop new tests and treatment approaches that improve people’s quality of life and outcomes.
So while it’s impossible to say exactly what the future will hold, it is safe to predict that genetic testing will play an increasingly important role in healthcare. We are still in the early stages of unleashing the full potential of genetic testing, and as we learn more we will need to continue to determine how to best use this information to improve lives. That will be our challenge – and opportunity – in the years ahead.